Press Releases

Carper Rejects Greenspan's Call for Social Security Cuts

Says We Should Honor America's Commitment to Seniors

Feb 27 2004

WASHINGTON (Feb. 27) - Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., in a letter to President Bush, today rejected Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's recent recommendation to cut Social Security benefits in order to pay for the president's tax cuts. The letter, which was signed by 14 other Democrats, said it would be "wrong to balance the budget by breaking our promise to America's seniors." Carper said that Social Security is running a surplus today, whereas the president's tax cuts over the past three years have helped produce nearly a $500 billion projected deficit this year. "The implication that Social Security is the cause of our current deficit is dead wrong," Carper pointed out. "Social Security is in surplus today. In fact, the administration is borrowing $152 billion from Social Security this year to pay for the President's tax cuts." "It is simply wrong to claim that we can afford permanent tax breaks for the most fortunate among us, but we can’t afford to honor our commitment to America’s seniors," the letter states. The full text of the letter is below: February 27, 2004 The Honorable George W. Bush President of the United States The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President: We are writing to respectfully request that you publicly reject Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s recent remarks to the House Budget Committee recommending significant cuts in Social Security benefits. For nearly seventy years, Social Security has reflected the best of America’s values. Social Security promises Americans that if you work hard, pay your taxes, and play by the rules, you will be able to retire and live in dignity. Thanks to Social Security, poverty among America’s seniors has been reduced from about 50 percent to less than ten percent. While we share Chairman Greenspan’s concerns about our long-term fiscal challenges, we believe it would be wrong to balance the budget by breaking our promise to America’s seniors. The Social Security Trust Fund is not in crisis; it currently is projected to remain solvent until 2042. Moreover, over the next 75 years, the entire Social Security shortfall is less than one-third the size of the tax cuts we have enacted over the past three years. It is simply wrong to claim that we can afford permanent tax breaks for the most fortunate among us, but we can’t afford to honor our commitment to America’s seniors. The average monthly Social Security benefit is only about $900 per month. While some may believe that this is too much to promise seniors who have worked hard and contributed to our nation, we disagree. We hope you will join us in publicly rejecting the statements of Chairman Greenspan, and assure all Americans that we will not pay for tax breaks for the most fortunate by cutting Social Security benefits. Sincerely, Tom Carper, et. al.